Rugby | Wins for South Africa, Australia, England and Japan

The race to qualify for the knockout stages of the 2019 Rugby World Cup is heating up.

There has been plenty of action over the last 48 hours, with wins for South Africa, Australia, England and hosts Japan.

Here is how all the action unfolded.

Springboks steamroll Italy

Italy’s winning run was halted emphatically by Pool B rivals South Africa.

The Springboks plundered seven tries (and a bonus point) against the 14-man Italians at Shizuoka Stadium on Friday.

South Africa’s comfortable victory lifts them to the top of Pool B – though they have played a game more than New Zealand – and more or less guarantees them a place in the quarter-finals.

Rassie Erasmus’ men scored their first try within five minutes, with Cheslin Kolbe showing fast feet to evade an Italian defender and go over in the corner. Handre Pollard sent the resulting conversion sailing between the posts to make it 7-0.

Tommaso Allan got Italy on the scoreboard in the eighth minute with a well-taken penalty, but Pollard responded in kind two minutes later.

South Africa recorded their second try in the 26th minute when Mbongeni Mbonambi saw the space to dive over the try-line after a powerful driving maul.

Pollard converted once again to give the Springboks a 17-3 lead at half time.

Conor O’Shea’s Italy were dealt a huge blow two minutes into the second half when Azzurri loosehead Andrea Lovotti was sent off for a dangerous tip tackle on Duane Vermeulen.  

Pollard’s 50th-minute penalty extended South Africa’s lead to 17 points, before Kolbe registered his second try two minutes later, claiming Pollard’s crossfield kick and sprinting over the whitewash.

Lukhanyo Am added another try in the 57th minute, carrying the ball 40 metres before touching down with ease.

Try number five came when Makazole Mapimpi cantered between the posts in the 67th minute, and South Africa still had time for two more.

RG Snyman crossed in the 75th minute, before Malcolm Marx got in on the act in the final minute to secure a 49-3 victory.

The defeat means Italy will have to beat New Zealand in order to make the last eight.

No pressure then.

Wallabies wallop Uruguay

Australia recorded a 45-10 bonus-point victory over Uruguay.

The Wallabies scored seven tries on their way to their second win in Pool D, but weren’t always convincing at Oita Bank Dome.

Australia played half of the opening 40 minutes with 14 men, with tackling and indiscipline an issue once again, but carried a 19-3 lead into the interval nonetheless.

Dane Haylett-Petty crossed in the corner for Australia’s first try in the fifth minute, with Christian Lealiifano making it 7-0 from the resulting conversion.

Uruguay hit back through a Felipe Berchesi penalty, before Australia’s Adam Coleman was shown a yellow card for a dangerous tackle on Rodrigo Silva.

Jordan Petaia, who became the youngest ever Wallaby to start a World Cup match, added Australia’s second try in the 23rd minute, driving through the Uruguay defence after Michael Hooper was stopped just short of the line.

Lealiifano converted to make it 14-3.

Australia then lost Lukhan Salakaia-Loto to the sin bin for another high challenge, reducing them to 14 men for the second time in the half.

Petaia was heavily involved again when Tevita Kuridrani bagged the Wallabies’ third try on the half hour, showing good footwork before releasing Kuridrani through to score.

Cheika’s men led 19-3 at half time, and secured their bonus point five minutes into the second half.

Kuridrani burst through a gap in the Uruguay defence to extend Australia’s lead, with Lealiifano registering his third conversion from four attempts soon afterwards.

Will Genia added the Wallabies’ fifth try in the 52nd minute, and veteran James Slipper making it six on the hour mark, with Lealiifano converting on both occasions.

Haylett-Petty scored his second – and Australia’s seventh try – 13 minutes from time, before Uruguay claimed a late try through Manuel Diana, which was converted by Berchesi.

The win leaves the Wallabies top of Pool D on 11 points from three games, two clear of Wales, who have a game in hand.

Uruguay, on the other hand, are bottom of the group on four points.

England seal place in quarter-finals

England confirmed their place in the last eight with a 39-10 win over Argentina.

Eddie Jones’ men scored six tries against their Pool C rivals – who played 63 minutes with 14 men – at Ajinomoto Stadium.

It was Argentina who took the lead in the sixth minute through a Benjamin Urdapilleta penalty, but the Pumas’ lead didn’t last long.

Two minutes later, Jonny May touched down in the corner after being picked out by George Ford following relentless English pressure.

Owen Farrell got his conversion all wrong, meaning the score remained 5-3 in England’s favour. Argentina then suffered a huge blow in the 17th minute when Tomas Lavanini was shown a red card by Nigel Owens for catching Farrell with a shoulder to the head.

England finally claimed their second try five minutes before the break, with Elliot Daly cleverly using May as a decoy before sprinting over the line after two minutes of sustained attacking play deep in the Argentina half.

Farrell missed his conversion again, but Jones’ side recorded their third try in first half stoppage time.

After several big carries, Ben Youngs produced a dummy pass before crossing to make it 15-3 at the interval. Farrell mishit yet another conversion, missing four placed kicks out of four in the first half (including a penalty).

Ford added England’s fourth try five minutes after the restart, touching down wide on the left after the Europeans spread the play wide.

Farrell finally converted to make it 22-3, before adding a penalty in the 56th minute.

Matias Moroni dived over the try-line to register Argentina’s only try of the game 10 minutes from time, applying the finish to a superb move from the Pumas.

Emiliano Boffelli converted to make it 22-10.

England’s fifth try came two minutes later when Jack Nowell came through a tackle and raced to the corner, managing to ground the ball before being knocked into touch with a tackle.

Farrell’s second conversion of the game extended England’s lead, before Luke Cowan-Dickie added a try from a rolling lineout maul.

Farrell landed another conversion to make it 39-10 with the last kick of the game.

England are now guaranteed a place in the quarter-finals, and will likely top Pool C. Argentina, on the other hand, are unlikely to progress to the knockout stages.

Japan leave it late to claim bonus point

Hosts Japan kept their perfect start to the World Cup intact with a 38-19 win over Samoa.

The Brave Blossoms claimed a crucial bonus point in the final minute at Toyota Stadium.

Yu Tamura kicked two penalties in the opening eight minutes to give the home side an early 6-0 lead, but two penalties from Henry Taefu drew Samoa level in the 16th minute.

Another Tamaru penalty restored Japan’s lead in the 24th minute, before Samoa lost TJ Ioane to the sin bin for a late tackle.

Tim Lafaele scored the game’s first for Japan in the 28th minute, racing over out wide after a brilliant move from the host nation. Tamaru converted to stretch Lyn Jones’ men’s lead to 10 points.

Samoa’s Taefu kicked his third penalty of the half in the 35th minute to reduce the deficit to seven before the interval.

Tafeu added a fourth penalty in the 45th minute, drawing Samoa to within four points of Japan.

Tamura gave the Brave Blossoms some breathing space with a 51st-minute penalty of his own, and Kazuki Himeno scored Japan’s second try three minutes later.

Himeno’s try came back off a rolling maul, and Tamura’s conversion made it 26-12.

Taefu drove over from close range from a Samoa lineout in the 73rd minute, before adding the conversion himself.

That was to be the Pacific Islanders last score, as Japan recorded two late tries to secure a bonus point in the dying seconds.

Kenki Fukuoka raced over in the corner, with Tamura missing his conversion for once.

Roared on by the home crowd, Japan finally got their bonus point when Kotaro Matsushima side-stepped a Samoa defender and grounded Japan’s fourth try.

Tamura converted to cap off a 38-19 win for Japan.

The Asian nation top Pool A on 14 points after three games, three clear of Ireland.